It has turned out to be a year of Jubilee for 900 prison inmates to whom President Mahama of Ghana has granted amnesty prior to the commemoration of the July 1st Republic Day.
Chairman of the Prisons Council, Pastor Stephen Wengam who confirmed this to citifmonline.com said the amnesty will take effect on the said date. According to the Chairman, the move will bring a great sigh of relief to the prison service, owing to the fact that various prisons are likely to start rejecting convicted persons because the facilities are almost full. He had earlier on explained that Ghana has 43 prison facilities and according to a 2014 report, 28 are said to be overcrowded by as much as 358%. The prisons are also lacking funds for upkeep and maintenance as about 80% of the service’s meager budgetary allocation goes into feeding, while “only 20% is used for administrative expenses, buying uniforms, paying utilities, taking care of their (prisoners) medication.” He said,
“900 is a big number and it will go a long way in helping us to categorize and classify the rest of the prisoners per the UN standard.”
Pastor Wengam added that President John Dramani Mahama and the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood will also tour some prisons on July 3, to ascertain their present conditions. Article 72(1) of the constitution indicates that the President may in consultation with the Council of State grant a person convicted of an offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions.
The 900 freed prisoners include 883 first offenders of good behaviour who have served either half or more of their sentences, an elderly prisoner and one other prisoner who is very ill.
The President has asked the prisoners to conduct themselves well as they return to society and avoid breaching the law again. He also urged Ghanaians and families of beneficiaries to whole heartedly reintegrate the pardoned prisoners into society so as not to cause them any further frustration or misery.